The healing of diverse people starts in the heart of His followers first being thankful. Humility is fruit of a thankful lifestyle.
If you asked most Christians what the most important holiday is, they would probably say it was either Christmas or Easter. Those are the most important events in all of history, besides creation and the finalization of the coming Kingdom.
Thanksgiving Day has a historical basis in the foundation of our country. After making pilgrim and turkey cutouts in grade school, I don’t think much about the original event. The communal outdoor meal was shared between the indigenous people and the Separatist Puritans on a cold day in a territory that would later become the state of Massachusetts. The menu probably consisted of wild game and perhaps lobster, not mashed potatoes and nearly all white turkey. Either way, diverse people ate together and were thankful for their harvest and expected survival.
Looking back before the birth of Christ, some of the biggest celebrations of the Israelites, were more like our Thanksgiving. Their feasts and sacrifices, celebrations of thanksgivings, lasted several days to month long. Thanksgiving became a national holiday during the most divisive time in our Country’s heritage, declared by Abraham Lincoln in the middle of The Civil War.
Today, our people are divided more than ever. There are deep divisions along all lines. Positions on politics, religion, gender, sexuality, race, and social issues has us pointing at each other across widening gaps. The direction we are going as a country of continued disunity will lead only to one thing: divided we will fail. Jesus even referenced this concept in Matthew 12:25 “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” Jesus was so concerned about the disunity of his believers that it was one of the last things recorded that he prayed for all in John 17:20-23. This brings to mind a verse from “Healer” by Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer Todd Rundgren, “There are enough destroyers and criticizers. The world needs a healer.”
My first visit to Massachusetts followed the death of my grandmother Helen Barry when I was five years old, during the turbulent 1960’s. My great aunt Marjorie was an operatic singer in her local church. She implanted into my heart the spirit of thanksgiving. That fall day I asked her what she wanted for Christmas. This sweet, never married, modestly living, tiny but mighty in love, lady spoke softly. She said she had everything and was thankful. What she wanted was peace between the people of the earth. It is one of my earliest memories, more than the meals or gifts of various holidays. Too, I remember great aunt Marjorie's unconditional love, more than any other relative.
The first Thanksgiving defined for a moment unified diverse culture. The first national Thanksgiving declared for a nation on the verge of its end.
The healing of diverse people starts in the heart of His followers first being thankful. Humility is fruit of a thankful lifestyle. Several years ago One Thousand Blessings by Ann Voskamp inspired me to journal things I am thankful for. I started with the basics. Thankful for the father God for creation, for creating life, matter, energy, and the universe itself. Light, the air that I breathe, and the natural resources that make daily life possible. Then I was thankful for the generations that extend backwards thousands of years, that culminated in my birth. Through the difficulties of the ages, whether that be immigration, plagues, wars and personal and country strife, and my life today is a miracle of God’s overall plan. I think of my family and a few generations back and know the difficulty they faced, and somehow, they survived – and so have I today. I look around, think of safe and abundant oxygen, transportation, opportunity, housing, water, food, society, schools, and business, and an overall functional supply chain and government. I reflect on the abundance of social service institutions, hospitals, and churches. I think of my church, and all of the ways it serves God and the community, and how it has blessed thousands, including myself for over 30 years. It’s humbling, knowing I cannot take credit for any of these things. I wonder, who am I, and about my views and opinions, and consider what really matters?
It’s during these interchanges that I sense God’s grand purposes and his Spirit within me. It humbles me, enabling me to love others. To seek understanding with those across the gaps of differences.
Thanksgiving Day is perhaps the most important holiday, during these turbulent times. It’s a time to become more thankful, humbler, and to seek ways to build bridges of unity with those around us. To love and enjoy others, especially those most different than us. Who are you going to invite to your table this season? The healing of unity starts with you and me.